Rogue Pak colonels behind LOC killings

Rogue Pak colonels behind LOC killings

By MADHAV NALAPAT | NEW DELHI | 12 January, 2013
Last month, five jawans lost their lower limbs because of mines planted by Pakistan forces.

Military-civilian sources in India warn that the command structure of the Pakistan Army is being challenged by a growing number of fanaticised officers. They are unwilling to obey COAS General Ashfaq Kayani's orders to focus attention on counter-terror operations to the west rather than continue the old eastward India-centric policy. The fanaticised officers aim to "create a series of incidents along the Line of Control (LoC) that they hope will lead to conflict with India, thereby giving them an excuse to downsize anti-Taliban and anti-terrorist operations along Pakistan' s western frontier". The revised Pakistan Army military doctrine worked out by General Kayani places stress on challenges along and across Pakistan's western frontier rather than the border with India to the east.

Since 2011, some units of the Pakistan Army across the LoC have been "unusually aggressive across the wide sector guarded by India's 25 Infantry Division", whose remit includes Rajouri, Poonch, Mendhar, Haji Pir and Nowshera. Because the border fence set up by India is located more than a kilometre inside Indian territory, "the intention of the Pakistan side seems to be to make the fence the new boundary, by denying access to Indian soldiers who patrol the other side of the fence, albeit on Indian territory". Since 2011, "the Pakistan forces have planted mines near the fence, so as to discourage patrols there". Last month, five jawans lost their lower limbs because of such mines, a fact thus far not revealed to the public.

These sources warn that "it is not only the civilian leadership (of Pakistan) that has lost control of army units in the field but the higher echelons of the Pakistan Army as well". They claim that "there is widespread anger within the ranks at General Kayani's insistence that extremists are a bigger threat than India", in view of the close operational relationship that has existed between the Pakistan Army and extremists since the 1979 covert war against the USSR got launched in Afghanistan. "Should such provocations continue, it would mean that Kayani has lost control of his men", and that the strategy of the COAS of concentrating forces in the west is being sought to be reversed through a replay of Indo-Pak tension. They point out that Kargil occurred "just when it seemed that peace had a chance in 1999", the difference being that at that time, the then COAS (Pervez Musharraf) was fully behind the provocative policy of his men, whereas General Kayani, according to information reaching India, "understands that India has zero intention of launching a war against Pakistan".

The higher echelons of the Pakistan Army have lost control of units in the field.

Sources within the civilian side point out that beheadings and other mutilation of Indian soldiers by fanaticised segments of the Pakistan Army is not new. "A similar incident took place in 2003 that was hushed up by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, while two soldiers of the Kumaon regiment were beheaded in mid-2011". That incident too was downplayed in the euphoria of a possible Aman ki Asha. A military source claims that "the head was not the only body part that was severed as a trophy by the Pakistan side", other parts of the body were mutilated as well. He added that an effort was made to decapitate the second killed soldier as well, "but this was thwarted by fire from the Indian side".

Civilian sources warn that the only way to deter such attacks "is to develop offensive covert capabilities in Pakistan". They complain that in 1997, I.K. Gujral began downsizing covert capabilities in Pakistan's policy, which has been continued under both Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, both of whom seem to believe that India can outsource its defence against Pakistan to the United States". They point to the recent disbanding of the Technical Services Division (TSD) after General V.K. Singh remitted the office of COAS last year. The unit was accused of spying on civilian leaders at the behest of General Singh, a charge "which conveniently overlooked the fact that the TSD functioned not under the COAS but under the Defence Intelligence Agency, a specialised unit operating under the Ministry of Defence. Military sources say that the "Off Air Interceptors" of the soon-to-be-disbanded TSD "are of immense value in finding out what is going on across the borders", and rue the fact that "this capability is now being given up". It needs to be mentioned that the present COAS, General Bikram Singh, is reported to have decided to disband the TSD on the recommendation of a panel headed by a lieutenant general.

Both military and civilian sources agree that "covert capability needs to be created" that can deter rogue elements within the Pakistan Army and their collaborators in Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terror organisations from carrying out attacks on India. They warn that "at present, such capacity does not exist, thereby creating a window of opportunity for fresh terror strikes on the scale of 26/11". The worry is that, having failed to generate hostilities between the conventional armies of both sides by provocations such as the beheadings, out-of-control fanatics within the Pakistan Army will sponsor fresh mass terror attacks on India, so as to achieve their objective of conflict.

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